Tag Archives: Lemon

Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}

Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}While many of my food memories of my childhood in Texas revolve around Tex-Mex and barbecue, I also have a place in my heart for Lebanese food. My dad began going to a Lebanese restaurant called Hedary’s in the 1970s and, over time, got my mom, my sisters, and myself hooked on their mezze, lahem meshwi, and steaming hot pillows of fresh pita. And tabouleh. And the rice pudding. And the sodas that came in short, round glass bottles.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}For years, Hedary’s (“heh-dah-rees”) was our restaurant of choice for weekend dinners and special occasions alike, and as we grew up and moved away, a must-go whenever one (or all) of us came back to Fort Worth to visit. That is, until they closed the original location near my parents’ neighborhood a couple years back.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Our unanimous family-favorite Hedary’s entree was Frarej, a roast chicken dish made with tons of lemon and garlic and served with tender potatoes, tomatoes and onions. It somehow towed the line between light and bright and deeply comforting and was always the centerpiece of our extensive order.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej appears to be specific to the Hedary family—I’ve never seen it on any other Lebanese menu, the owners of my beloved Sahadi’s have never heard of it (nor have my Lebanese friends), and a quick internet search turns up only recipes by people like me who are trying to recapture the magic of this dish from a now-closed restaurant in a strip mall in Fort Worth, Texas.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}My older sister started making a version Frarej at home when she was in graduate school and has honed it over the years. She gave me her recipe when I wanted to impress a new boyfriend* a few years ago and since then, I have slowly made adjustments—not many though—until I achieved a Frarej I could make and eat any day of the week.

*I’m the sort of person who will try to seduce you with garlic. This is why I’m single. Although, to be fair, that boyfriend stuck around for a few years so…?Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Start by chopping (or pressing) 8-10 cloves of fresh garlic. Mix that with 1/3 cup of olive oil, 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper, and pour it all over a bunch of sliced Yukon gold potatoes and onion wedges.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Let that roast for 15 minutes at 500F (yes, 500F) before stirring in some tomato wedges and topping it all off with some bone-in skin-on chicken thighs that you’ve given the lightest coating of olive oil. Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Throw that back in a 500F oven (again, yes, that hot) and let it go for 45 minutes, occasionally spooning accumulated liquid over the chicken, but otherwise leaving it alone. You’ll know it’s ready when the chicken is gorgeous and golden and the potatoes are tender. Your kitchen should also smell ahhh-mazing. Lemony and garlicky and chickeny—amazing.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej will be good the day it’s made—what could possibly be bad about juicy roast chicken, lemony potatoes, sweet onions and tangy tomatoes?—but the leftovers are where it’s at. I turned down a dinner invitation a couple weeks ago just because I wanted to eat the Frarej leftovers* in my fridge. The vegetables absorb all the lemony, chickeny fattiness and are just so…effing…delicious.

*This is actually why I’m single.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}

Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}
inspired by Hedary’s Restaurant, adapted from E1’s recipe
makes 4-6 servings

2 small Spanish onions, sliced into 8 wedges each
1 1/2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, sliced in quarters
2/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 3-4 large lemons)
1/3 cup olive oil + more for coating chicken
8-10 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
3 pounds skin-on chicken thighs (about 6-8 thighs)
4 large or 5-6 small Roma tomatoes, sliced in quarters
chopped Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 500F.

Toss onions and potatoes together on a large rimmed sheet pan.

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a liquid measuring cup or small mixing bowl. Stir together with a fork (it won’t emulsify). Pour mixture over potatoes and onions and toss together with your hands. Bake for 15 minutes.

Pat chicken thighs dry. Rub them all over with olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.

Remove onions and potatoes from the oven. Stir in tomato wedges. Carefully nestle chicken thighs over the top.

Roast for 40-45 minutes, spooning a little of the accumulated liquid over chicken every 15 minutes. It’s ready when chicken is golden and cooked through, and vegetables are tender and browning in places. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. They will get more and more delicious as time goes on.Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}Frarej {Lebanese Lemon Chicken}

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Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’mores

Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresIs there any food that celebrates summer quite like a s’more? I don’t think so. I mean, it’s pretty difficult to argue with the near-perfect combination of graham cracker, melty toasted marshmallow, and chocolate on a searing hot day…Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’mores…but I’m going to anyway because of course I am. I like to occasionally dabble in the contrarian arts, and nothing on this blog screams “I do what I want!” louder than today’s Lemon Meringue S’mores!Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresYes, Lemon Meringue S’mores. As in, graham crackers, toasted marshmallow, and lemon curd. As in, a six—er, four—bite summertime treat that tastes just like Lemon Meringue Pie, but is about 1% of the work, permitting that you’ve already made the lemon curd. If you haven’t made it, that number goes up to a whopping 3%.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresYou see, the lemon curd I use for Lemon Meringue S’mores isn’t just any lemon curd, y’all. It’s Lazy Lemon Curd. I mean, you’ll be hard-presses to find a citrus curd recipe that is particularly challenging, but this is one for the days when you reeeeeally don’t want to whisk something continuously or add butter bit-by-bit or strain anything.*

*I hate straining things. Hate. It. Not as much as I hate cleaning muffin pans, but almost. So, if I tell you to strain something, it means it really needs to be done. Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresThis is an easy three-ingredient, two-step recipe. Whisk together some fresh lemon juice, two egg yolks and a can of sweetened condensed milk. Heat that mixture over a double boiler, stirring if/when you think about it, until it thickens slightly, which takes fifteen minutes. That’s literally it.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresIf this recipe looks familiar, that’s because it is. Lazy Lemon Curd is just a sunny lemon spin on the filling for my Key Lime Linzer Cookies, and that is just a stovetop version of Key Lime Pie filling. It’s also the combination I use in my easy Pink Lemonade Bars. Sweetened condensed milk, y’all—it’s the unsung hero of my kitchen.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresOnce your Lazy Lemon Curd has cooled a bit, make yourself some s’mores! Slather a little of the curd on a graham cracker, top it with a toasted marshmallow and sandwich it all with another graham cracker. And then repeat that process because you’re going to want two of these toasty, gooey, lemony treats. And because this stuff keeps well in the fridge, you can make Lemon Meringue S’mores all summer long. That’s something worth celebrating.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’mores

Lazy Lemon Curd
makes about 1 1/2 cups

2/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3-4 lemons)
1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 large egg yolks, room temperature

Make the filling. Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

In the heatproof bowl, whisk together lemon juice, sweetened condensed milk, and egg yolks. Place bowl over simmering water, creating a double boiler. Let cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and transfer filling to a heatproof container. Press a piece of plastic wrap to the surface. Let cool completely at room temperature before storing in the refrigerator.

Lemon Meringue S’mores
makes 4 s’mores

4 whole sheets honey graham crackers
2 tablespoons Lazy Lemon Curd
4 large marshmallows

Carefully break each graham cracker sheet in half to produce 2 squares (8 squares total). Place bottom-side-up on a surface.

Top 4 of the graham squares with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) each of the Lazy Lemon Curd.

Toast the marshmallows. Place each marshmallow on a skewer. Turn a gas stove flame (or other heat source) to medium-low. Carefully toast marshmallow over the top before transferring it onto lemon curd. Repeat with other marshmallows. Turn off stove. If you’d like to toast your marshmallows with another at-home method, see here.

Top marshmallows with the remaining graham squares, top-side-up. Serve immediately.Lazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’moresLazy Lemon Curd + Lemon Meringue S’mores

Pink Lemonade Bars

Pink Lemonade BarsI have a love/hate relationship with Facebook’s “On This Day” feature. Yes, it’s fun to see old pictures and moments from my college days, but there’s a dark side to it all. That terrible haircut I’ve blocked from memory? Here it is! Every bad fashion choice I’ve ever made? Displayed prominently on my iPhone screen! What appears to be a solid year of angsty statuses? Just…what?!

Pink Lemonade BarsLast week, I had daily reminders of last year’s vacation to Swans Island, Maine. I am currently sixteen days away from heading up there again and I am so. freaking. ready. Swiping through photos of my friends and me hiking, puzzling, and sunbathing has me going crazy waiting to get out of NYC. Don’t get me wrong–I love living here. I just need a break every once in a while.

The vast majority of our trip pictures from last summer are of the four of us collecting wildflowers and climbing over rocks and floating on inner tubes in the ocean, but there are also a few of my friend Liz and me baking in “our” rustic kitchen. We had a ball working together, and I’m so glad I documented it all on here. Our first effort was a Blue-Razz Pie made with foraged berries, but it’s the Lemon Bars that really have me feeling nostalgic for my favorite island off the coast of Maine. There’s just something about the combination of soft lemon filling and buttery shortbread crust that screams summer, am I right?!

Pink Lemonade BarsToday, I’m taking that classic recipe and combining it with another favorite–Pink Lemonade! These Pink Lemonade Bars are super lemony and delicious, and insanely easy 😊 The whole recipe requires just ten ingredients, and while the filling is just as soft and delicious as a classic lemon bar, it’s much less complicated. Sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks are the heavy lifters here, keeping everything sweet and giving the filling its structure.

Pink Lemonade BarsPink Lemonade BarsPink Lemonade BarsPink Lemonade Bars get their color in two ways. The first is seedless raspberry purée, made from blitzing fresh raspberries in a blender or food processor and then pushing it through a sieve. I know that sounds tedious, but it takes all of five minutes. This will produce about 1/3 cup of purée, although you’ll only need to mix 1/4 cup into the filling.

Pink Lemonade Bars

Raspberry Purée only.

Pink Lemonade Bars

Raspberry Purée and Food Coloring.

You could certainly use only the raspberry purée to color the filling, but the pink may not be very vibrant. I wanted my bars to be a brighter pink, but no amount of raspberry purée by itself seemed to do the trick. Here, I’ve added a tiny amount of pink gel food coloring to achieve a berry color.

Bottom line: whether or not you choose to use food coloring, your bars will still be pink and lemony 😊

Pink Lemonade BarsThese bars bake up quickly, but must cool completely and be chilled before slicing–Pink Lemonade Bars are an excellent make-ahead dessert option. When you’re ready to serve, all you’ll need to do is slice them up and dust them with confectioner’s sugar. Your friends and family will love this twist on an old favorite.Pink Lemonade Bars

Pink Lemonade Bars
makes one 8-inch pan, 9-16 bars

Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into cubes

Filling:
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
4 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not fat free)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2-3 large lemons)
red or pink food coloring, as desired (optional)
1/4-1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Grease foil. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. It will be powdery, but should hold together when pinched. Pour shortbread mixture into prepared pan. Spread it around to cover the bottom of the pan before using your hand to pack it down into an even layer. Prick several times with a fork. Bake 8-10 minutes, until it begins to set.

Make the filling. Place raspberries in a food processor or blender. Process until puréed. Push raspberry purée through a sieve to remove seeds. This should produce about 1/3 cup raspberry purée. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg yolks until homogeneous. Whisk in sweetened condensed milk, followed by lemon juice and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of raspberry purée. Pour filling over warm crust. Bake 18-22 minutes, until the center of the filling just barely jiggles when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Chill for at least two hours or overnight. Use foil overhang to remove bars to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars.

Immediately before serving, place a cooling rack over wax paper. Place cut bars on rack. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the tops. Remove to a plate and serve immediately.

Leftover bars will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Add more confectioner’s sugar as necessary.

Pink Lemonade Bars

Lemon Bars

 I have bought six pounds of flour and two pounds of sugar this week. That’s nothing new for me, a person who regularly has to explain why she needs eight pounds of butter to the cashiers at Trader Joe’s. But here on Swans Island, where there’s one lone store for all 300 residents, people want to know what on earth you’re doing with all that flour and sugar. Long story short, every person I’ve run into at TIMS now knows that there’s a baker staying down the road.

It’s not like I was trying hide it, standing waist-deep in a ditch, picking raspberries and waving at passing cars with my friend, Liz. But it’s funny how now, for the last three days, every time I walk into that little general store, the sweet cashier wants to know what I’m going to bake next. When I mentioned yesterday that I was testing my recipe for lemon bars, the she and a woman standing in line behind me simultaneously said “Ohhhh, I love lemon bars.” After I got home from the beach today, I put four on a plate and drove them over. 

Lemon Bars are one of my favorite summertime treats. Bright and lemony with a not-too-sweet shortbread crust, I don’t think there’s anything more refreshing than biting into one straight from the fridge.

And they’re super easy, too. Cut together flour, sugar, salt, and cold butter, and press the crumbly mixture into a pan. Bake that for ten minutes just to set, and let it cool while you make the filling. Rub lemon zest into sugar, and whisk in a couple of eggs and a yolk, a little melted butter, some half-and-half and a ton of lemon juice. I like to add a touch of vanilla, just to round out all the lemon. Stir in a couple of tablespoons of flour and the tiniest bit of salt before pouring it over the crust. Bake it for 20 minutes, just until it no longer jiggles when the pan is jostled. 

 The hardest part of making Lemon Bars is letting them cool. Once they’re out of the oven, they need to cool to room temperature. Then they need to be refrigerated for at least three hours. This will seem absolutely endless, but as far as I’m concerned, Lemon Bars should always be eaten cold. Once all that cooling and chilling is done, all that’s left to do is slice them into bars, dust them with confectioner’s sugar and eat three in rapid succession.

Lemon Bars are a classic–perfect for any occasion. Even popping into the general store in a nine year-old terry cloth bathing suit cover-up with smeared mascara and sand in your hair. My appearance aside, these sweet little bars were a hit.

I can’t help but wonder what the nice people at TIMS will think when I go in and buy four pounds of peaches tomorrow. 

 Lemon Bars
makes one 8-inch pan, about 16 bars

Shortbread Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cubed

Filling:
3 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 tablespoons half-and-half (or heavy cream)
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

For Topping:
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving overhang at the edges. Grease foil with butter. Set aside.

Make the shortbread crust. In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or two forks, cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Mixture will be very crumbly and dry. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and use your fingertips to press it into one even layer on the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.

In a large mixing bowl, combine lemon zest and sugar. Use your fingertips to rub zest into sugar until completely combined. Whisk in eggs and egg yolk one at a time, mixing completely after each addition. Whisk in melted butter, followed by half-and-half (or heavy cream), lemon juice, and vanilla. Mix in all-purpose flour and salt. Mixture will be thin. Pour filling over the shortbread crust. Bake for 20 minutes, until set. Let cool completely on a rack before chilling for at least four hours.

Set a cooling rack over a piece of wax paper. Use the foil overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel foil from the edges. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice bars. Set bars on prepared rack. Sift confectioner’s sugar over the tops of the bars.

Serve bars immediately or refrigerate for up to three days.

Lemon Yogurt Cake

 How is it only Tuesday?

I’m going on vacation this Friday, and the anticipation is making this week seem absolutely endless. I can’t wait to be on an island off the coast of Maine with three of my closest girlfriends. We’re going to cook, hike, lay on the beach (if it’s not too cool), read, and relax. There’s no television or Internet, so we’ll be almost completely off the grid. It might not be your kind of vacation, but living in New York City, the idea of escaping literally all of the hustle and bustle is paradise. 

Until then, though, I’ve got plenty to do. Besides organizing the last details of our vacation, I’ve left my nanny job and gone full-time at my personal chef job. I get paid to cook dinner–that’s the dream, right?! Well, it is for me.

I’ve also been baking like crazy trying to get this blog so that it can function without me for a week. It might be a little quiet around here next week, but I’m hoping to write a post or two from the Wi-Fi porch at the island’s public library. 

 But I’m getting ahead of myself and haven’t said a word about today’s recipe, and that’s a real shame since I’ve looked forward to posting it for two weeks. This Lemon Yogurt Cake is bright, sweet, soft, extra lemony, and totally delicious. The cake itself is made super tender thanks to a cup of plain yogurt and a big hit of fresh lemon juice. Once it’s baked, the cake is soaked in an easy lemon syrup before being drizzled with a thick vanilla glaze. You could certainly make the glaze with lemon juice instead of milk, but I think the creamy texture pairs really well with the double-dose of lemon in the cake!

This Lemon Yogurt Cake is perfect for entertaining. I think it would be great for casual dinner parties, nice picnics, or taking to a friend who could use a nice surprise. Of course, it’s a wonderful cake to have around for no reason at all. After all, it’s hard to think about your never-ending to-do list when you’re eating a slice of cake! 

 Lemon Yogurt Cake
makes one 12.5 cup-capacity bundt pan*

For the pan:
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)

Cake:
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs, room temperature
8 ounces plain yogurt (nonfat is fine)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
2 teaspoons lemon extract (optional)

Lemon Syrup:
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3-4 tablespoons milk of choice
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare the pan. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together flour and oil. Use a pastry brush to paint the mixture onto the entire inside of the pan. Make sure to cover every crevice. Pour out any excess. Set pan aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, use clean fingers to rub together lemon zest and sugar.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in lemon sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each addition. Mix in plain yogurt, followed by lemon juice, vanilla, and lemon extract (if using). Add dry ingredients in two installments, mixing just until combined. Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth out the top. Tap pan on the counter five times before baking for 40-45 minutes. Cake is ready when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let cake cool in the pan for fifteen minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edges of the pan before inverting cake onto a rack to cool completely. Set rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Make lemon syrup. Combine lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. While stirring constantly, bring to a boil and let cook for three minutes, until slightly thickened. Let syrup cool five minutes before spooning over cooled cake. Let cake sit for 20 minutes before carefully transferring to a serving plate.

Make the glaze. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together confectioner’s sugar and salt. Stir in 3 tablespoons milk and vanilla. If a thinner glaze is desired, add another tablespoon of milk. Drizzle glaze over cake. Let set for 20 minutes before serving.

Cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Note:

This recipe may be divided into two 9×5″ loaf pans, although I am unsure of the bake time.